The sounds of cheering crowds and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney greeted the two astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) early Sunday morning during a live concert broadcast to the orbital laboratory.
"We want to say hi to you, we want to say good morning," McCartney said to the station's Expedition 12 crew. "I can't believe we're actually transmitting to space, this is sensational."
McCartney performed two songs live from Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California for ISS Expedition 12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev flying 219 statute miles (352 kilometers) above Earth.
"It's such an honor for you to join us," said McArthur after performing a pair of weightless somersaults aboard the station. "We're so thrilled that you can participate in our flight."
The broadcast began at about 12:55 a.m. EST (0555 GMT), though it was still 9:55 p.m. on stage for McCartney and his fans.
"We'd like to wake you up to a little bit of 'English Tea,'" McCartney told McArthur - of NASA - and Russian cosmonaut Tokarev, who sipped from breakfast drink bags during the performance. "What's that you got there in your tea Valery, a little vodka?" McCartney joked.
"It's a little early today," answered Tokarev with a smile.
McCartney also performed "Good Day Sunshine" for the ISS crew, a song that NASA used to rouse the seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery during the final day of their STS-114 return to flight mission.
"We're very proud to say that on the morning that NASA told them they were clear to come home to the Earth," they played that song, McCartney said. "We send our love from Earth."
McArthur and Tokarev are more than one month into a six-month mission aboard the ISS. They have performed one of at least two planned spacewalks and will take a brief ride outside the ISS next week to move their Soyuz spacecraft from one berth to another.
"I think this audience just wants to give you thanks for everything your doing and for joining us here tonight," McCartney said. "We wish you all the best for the rest of your mission. We can't wait to meet you when you get back down to Earth."
"That was a lot of fun," McCarthur said after the concert link up.
ISS flight controllers told the NASA astronaut that his wife and two daughters were present at mission control in Houston for the even and were more than happy with McCartney's invitation to say hello.
"I suspect they enjoyed that even more than we did," McArthur said.
- Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 12
- Special Report: NASA's STS-114 Return to Flight Mission